Welcome to the third edition of the Barbarian Blog which although a little late out of the blocks, has grown in size! The delay in publishing has largely been due to the fact that we have been intensely busy since the last edition and due to some guest contributors.
Having now recovered and demobilised the Operation HERRICK 18 cohort, deployed Operation HERRICK 19, and mobilised Operation HERRICK 20A, life within the ‘Barbarians’ continues apace. I am fiercely proud of our achievements to date, and wish to pay tribute to my team of Regulars and Reserves, who have worked so hard to recruit, train, select and mobilise the steady stream of willing and hugely capable volunteers. The Regiment has now provided a Reservist cohort of at least 1 officer and 23 soldiers for the last four iterations – over 100 Reservists. This is a magnificent effort and testimony too to the value and worth of the Reservist Soldier. We have one more cohort to mobilise before our commitment to Afghanistan comes to an end. Whilst we have a number of volunteers ready to step up to the plate, there is always room for more. The selection battle camp for this final cohort will take place during the Regimental Annual Deployment Exercise, over in Germany this coming May - don’t miss it!
I thank you all for your continued commitment and enthusiasm, and will do my part to ensure the Regiment receives the support that it needs to allow you to continue in this vein. In the meantime enjoy this edition of the Blog, which see’s a new contribution from Major Claude Preira MBE, the Regimental Quartermaster, and Pte Evans from 123 (Telford) Squadron.
The Operation HERRICK 18 are now home and have demobilised. They enjoyed a hugely successful tour embedded with 9 Theatre Logistic Regiment and the excellent reputation of the Regiment has been further enhanced; they can be justly proud of their achievements.
In the meantime our Operation HERRICK 19 cohort are now approaching the twilight of their tour with 27 Theatre Logistics Group, with only a few more months remaining. Owing to the increase in tempo in Afghanistan, as the end of combat operations’ deadline approaches this winter, we have received fewer updates from theatre than we had become used to. We do know though, that the team settled quickly and hit the ground running, making an instant, positive impression with their Regular counterparts. LCpl Mackay from 381 (Lancaster) Squadron took time to put pen to paper and sent us an update on life out on tour. I know that this was put up on your Squadron information boards and hopefully you will have all seen it. We look forward to their return and hearing more ‘war stories’ come the summer.
We have now also mobilised our Operation HERRICK 20A cohort, who are presently embedded with 1 Logistic Support Regiment and are in Germany going through their pre-deployment training. Operation HERRICK 20B is in the planning stages, and is very likely to be the last opportunity to deploy on an operational tour for the foreseeable future. We always need more volunteers, so I encourage those of you or are contemplating applying to do so. The selection process for this cohort will take place during the Regimental Annual Deployment Exercise, in Germany over the period 10 - 24 May.
I am pleased to say that the technical issues which affected all of the Army’s recruiting efforts appear to have subsided – the proof is the vastly increased inflow of new recruits. Whilst there remain areas for improvement, as I suspect will always be the case, much has been done to ease the burden on hard pressed recruiting teams, and adjustments to policy now allow us to undertake more training with potential candidates prior to attestation. The challenge to us however remains the same, to attract new recruits and to ensure that we provide effective mentoring and support to those in the system waiting to complete Phase 1 training; a responsibility that sits with us all.
The main effort at the moment is the planning for our Annual Deployment Exercise in May this year in Sennelager. It will follow a similar construct to last year with activities being split between the final Operation HERRICK selection battle camp, a Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer Cadre, Supply and other Special to Arm training, plus some Adventure Training. Adventure training this year will be split between Bavaria (Klettersteig, rock climbing, mountain biking and walking) and also Kiel Sail Training Centre, with some sail-training and the opportunity to complete a rib safety boat handling course . In addition there will also be some driver conversion training for the 6 and 15 tonne MAN SV and Landrover. A short 5 day low-level exercise will also be run under the leadership of Lt Kinahan, who has been attached to the Regiment as a Troop Commander for 6 months from our paired Regular unit 6 Regiment. He will work alongside our Reservists to help with their training and development, whilst he gains an understanding of the Reserve environment and our capabilities.
Prior to that however, we have a range of training activities, both at Squadron and Regimental levels, which include trade training, soldier first and MATTs’ weekends. Your attention is drawn to the Regimental training weekend 28 February – 2 March, taking place at Swynerton, where MATTs 1 – 6 will be conducted as a sweep up for those that need to qualify for their Certificate of Efficiency.
Many of you will already be aware that the Regiment has re-launched its Twitter account - @159SupRegt. From the feed you will get updates on events planned, happening and happened as well as some key messaging and opinion from within the Regiment and Brigade. Please follow us and get in touch with your views about what is sent and what you would like to see sent. We have also engaged with the West Midland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association media office, who will also advertise what we are up to as a Regiment, both before and after the event. So there is plenty of social media coverage to keep you informed, but also hopefully to attract new interest. We do however need to get much better at capturing our training on camera in order that we can show-off what we do. Please pass on any of those ‘you have been framed’ moments that have been captured to your respective Squadron PSIs or just tweet them and mention us so that we can re-tweet it. We have so much to be proud of and that message can be passed very quickly with your help.
Quartermaster’s Department (by Maj Claude Preira MBE RLC)
‘Sitting in the stomach of this Regiment charged with the responsibility of feeding this body; the challenge constant, hunger runs deep as a result of the high metabolism and yet, G4 continues to provide food from a larder that is often close to empty! “Thank the Lord for MJDI!” ’
During my tenure as Quartermaster this is my first submission to the blog, only because I have finally managed to find a moment to take my head out of regulations, books and countless assurance inspection reports, not to mention the meetings, visits and my busy social calendar! I feel I can speak on behalf of my team, when I say “It is nice to say goodbye to 2013”. Clearly, a baptism of fire!
It all started with JAMES training, quickly followed by G4 preparation for the Annual Deployment Exercise. The G4 Command Group consisting of the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, WO2 Kev Edwards, the Mechanical Transport Warrant Officer, WO2 Stan Stanley and SSgts (Artificer Quartermaster Sergeant) Danny Bromage (Tiffy) and Terry Burrows (Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant) all descended into my office and subsequently enjoyed a day of G4 analysis - all done in a “QM 5 minutes”! It was emotional. We all spilled our minds onto paper (very messy), but the effect was immense and exercise a great success; based on the fact that nobody starved and the transport went to plan (well, apart from a convoy taking a slightly different route plan on the approach to Sennelager!). Oh, and we even did some kit exchanges! On our return home we fell into the jaws of the introduction MJDI (Management of Joint Deployed Inventory) training, where all the G4 staff, including civilians, went onto a concentrated training period of 3 weeks of hard learning – even Les got it!!! From then on, we have had great joy reconciling stock into AinU’s (new name for a notional store). The first few weeks were very messy well, at least on paper and on one particular occasion the SQMS in 237 (West Bromwich) Squadron even managed to fit all of his stores and equipment into the Armoury! He must have been off sick during that part of his MJDI course.
On the Equipment front we saw the MT and LAD leading the field in preparation for ECI. There were plenty of long sleepless nights dreaming of JAMES, limited role of vehicles and inspection reports. A good deal of spit and polish also went into preparing for this event and clearly it was a resounding success! “Let’s try and deploy all our kit into the field during next year’s inspection” could make life easier all round. With the advent of JAMES the team continued to work hard so that all of the number crunching was done meticulously to ensure the status of the fleet was accurately maintained. Our next challenge was to pair JAMES with MJDI, one that proved to be just that, a challenge, even to the most ardent of “G4 Computer Geeks”. It resulted in most of the G4/ES staff converged on PH’s terminal (in his absence) to put this to bed once-and-for-all! Nnd and then Sadly, they all went home empty handed, yes we failed! “Tomorrow is a new day”.
We have also found time for some fun with events such as hill walking, ably organised by SSgt Lucas from 381 (Lancaster) Squadron, and of course some collective letting down of the hair. Most recently we had a Christmas dinner organised by Mr Sean Langford.
News from around the Patch
123 Ammunition Sqn (Telford/Stoke) – Maj AC Nicholson OC. This has been quite a busy period for 123 Squadron. The recruiting team under the direction of SSgts Burton and Norton have been very active in the area and with a good deal of success. We have currently 21 Candidates on TRHJ of which 5 have been attested. 4 are currently on Phase 1 Training and 1 is conducting Trade Training. The Squadron has a further 9 contacts who have yet to fill in an application form. In addition a further 2 have been attested during January 14. These new additions will be trained using the newly implemented Phase 0 and Phase -1 training programmes.
A Troop (Telford) under the organisation and guidance of SSgt Bromley held a Families’ Day to welcome back 7 Reservists from HERRICK 18. This was primarily to aid the integration and cohesion of A&B Troops and to show family members the support that the Squadron offers for members deploying and returning from operations. The event was great success and 86 people attended.
Last October 7 reservists (Capt Lord, SSgt Bromley, Cpl Holmes, Cpl Columb, LCpl Trueman, LCpl Bedson and Pte Jeffries) took part in the BUPA Birmingham Half Marathon in aid of the charity Cancer Research UK and in memory of the late Dave Bradley, ex-Squadron Commander and Regimental Second-in-Command. The team raised the princely sum of £720.00 for the charity and completed the event with a team average time of 1hr 46 mins per runner.
In November the Squadron led the Leegomary and Hadley local authority Service of Remembrance. In keeping with Squadron tradition the Sergeant Major, WO2 Adams, took on the role of Parade Marshall and our newest member, Pte Hemming, was given the task of placing the wreath at the cenotaph to commemorate those who gave their lives fighting for their country, a duty he conducted with extreme professionalism. This was a proud moment for the OC as it was his first official parade with his soldiers.
Later in the month we conducted a semi-formal sit down meal to welcome home the Operation HERRICK 18 volunteers and to said farewell to a stalwart and our longest serving member, SSgt Seabrook; whose service spanned 13 years Regular and 22 Territorial Army.
Following the welcome Christmas break a skiing exercise conducted at Tignes in the French Alps saw 9 Squadron members (Capt Speak, WO2 Ruane, SSgt Burton, SSgt Ponter, LCpl Garton, LCpl Holmes, LCpl Lavell, LCpl Orange, and Pte Evans) participate in Exercise BARBARIAN ALPINE DRAGON. In addition, WO2 Ruane, LCpl O’Riley and Pte Allison have been selected to attend Exercise RLC SKI in February.
216 (Tynemouth) Squadron – Maj H Drennan OC. This has been a cracking period for the Squadron. In the run up to Christmas it was all hands on deck to prepare for the Squadron Christmas Ball. The evening was a great success with almost 100 in attendance – a great turnout.
Post Christmas has seen a steady increase in attendance, from potential recruits to guys/gals that we have not seen for some time. We successfully ran a Team Medic Course, which was organised and delivered by Sgt Brooks. The feedback from the course participants was excellent and the aspiration is to run the course at each Squadron within the Regiment. We have also had Ptes Banks and Crinnion return from a skiing expedition who had a brilliant time and can’t wait to get their skis back on.
On the operations front, we welcomed back LCpl Boldrini, Ptes Brown, Crinnioni, Rudman, Pirie and Sewell from Operation HERRICK 18. All of the soldiers had a great tour and represented the Regiment and Squadron well. In the meantime we have also said farewell to 4 members who have volunteered for the next iteration; farewell and good luck to LCpl Miller, LCpl Tambin, Pte Ryan and Pte Turgoose. We should not of course forget those who are currently away and the hard work that they are delivering in Afghanistan: Ptes Edler, Elsdon and Percy.
237 (West Bromwich) Squadron - Maj D Paget OC. Prior to the Christmas break the Squadron held a MATTs’ training day which concluded with the soldier’s Christmas lunch followed by entertainment and drinks in the bar. During the meal we took the opportunity to write Christmas cards to the Squadron’s Operation HERRICK 19 cohort, the ‘Magnificent 7’, who are being able led by SSgt Lewis. As part of the proceedings I had the privilege to promote some Ptes to LCpl – congratulations to LCpl Thompson and Conoghan; Ptes Ward and Leja were also selected and will be promoted to LCpl on completion of the Potential JNCO Cadre. The final award of the day, and year, was the most prestigious and I am pleased to confirm that the Squadron’s Soldier of the year award went to Pte Tfari.
After the much needed break, all Squadron personnel returned refreshed and ready to face the challenges ahead. We also welcomed back LCpl Bell, Pte’s Mckee, Ward and Scarlet from their deployments and at the same time bade farewell to Ptes Banks, Wood and Hickman on Operation HERRICK 20A. The SPSI WO2 (SQMS) English departed on Exercise BARBARIAN ALPINE (Skiing) with 3 members of the Squadron, they all had a great time and discovered talents that they did not know they had. Finally, a welcome to the newest recruits to the Squadron: Ptes Natalie Cullis, Craig Sutton and Jenny Constable.
243 (Coventry) Squadron – Maj G Bilsbarrow OC. This has been a period where we have seen attendance numbers start to pick up again, possibly due to the new and more exciting training programme. We have also now introduced a new PT club every Wednesday evening which seems to be attracting a good level of attendance. This is organised by the PTIs and they want all members of the Squadron to attend so that they can do bigger and more painful sessions!
Recruiting remains a priority and we are now getting good returns from CAPITA although actual number increases are slow to appear. We have recently held a very successful trade weekend where numbers were good and we have our first 5 volunteers for Operation HERRICK 20B. 3 of our members recently attended Exercise BARBARIAN ALPINE DRAGON in France and a great time was had by all with a new potential instructor being found in Pte Adam Robson; and LCpl Hoskins managed to scrape into the top group after a good ski-off at startex. WO2 Williams has now started to make progress with the charity Grapevine and the first event for this group will be held in the Memorial Park in May 14 with a command task and sports day for these fine people with learning disabilities.
In November the Squadron supported the Coventry Remembrance Parade, providing the largest uniformed contingent for the service. Later that month we also hosted a joint charity event with DHL, raising over £1000.00 for Help For Heroes. Finally we are now in the final stages of organising an Adventure Training weekend (7-9 March) which will include mountain biking, canoeing and climbing and promises to be a very exciting event.
Pte George Evans from 123 (Telford) Squadron has produced an excellent report from Exercise BARBARIAN ALPINE DRAGO 14 that I thought I would share with you…
As far as adventure training goes in the Army Reserve skiing is one of many types of outdoor activities that gets given a 10 out of 10, simply because of the sheer exhilaration and challenges it presents; so says Pte George Evans editor and script writer of this piece. The 19 Army Reservists, 2 x FTRS (very old officers) and 2 Regulars from the Regiment realised this after 7 days’ skiing, in Tignes near Val D’Isere, ably supported by their 4 instructors - 2 of which are also from 159 Supply Regiment.
From the moment we stepped off the very uncomfortable coach in Tignes Val Claret, (the village that is at the bottom of the Grande Motte glacier which is 3700+ meters above sea level) we immediately settled into our very comfortable and roomy 4 man boxes or should that be box rooms. A quick admin brief later and then we were ready for the fitting of boots and skis, all set for the week ahead; including the falls, trips and face plants that would surely follow. It wasn’t just the novices by all accounts, some of the more experienced skiers were also preparing themselves mentally for their advancement. The bus journey part of exercise did not apply to everyone though. Pte Joe Cluney, who actually bought his flatmate’s passport with him to the MCCP, had to make his own arrangements (after collecting his passport) and he booked a flight and transfer with the help of Sgt Laura Morrisey. Despite the embarrassment, he probably had the better deal due to the comfort of his travel arrangements.
Day one started with the group being split into 4 ability groups in the hostel and then the transfer on to the small slope named Bollin. This allowed the Chief Instructor and the other instructors to correctly grade those with previous experience – and this was where anyone who perhaps exaggerated their skill levels was immediately found out. The four groups each had an instructor, including WO2 Gaz “Powder Snow” English and WO2 Ross “I will see you on PT” McDougall; the other two were Musn Lauren Porter from the Welsh Guards Band and WO1 Iain (“Speed is good, control is better”) Waterston of the REME.
Musn Porter enjoyed the privilege of developing the beginners group and WO2 McDougall had the remainder. They took us under their respective wings and with a bit of persistence taught us various basic moves which would prove invaluable later in the week. These included correct posture, methods of different controlled turns such as plough turning and the plough parallel turns and at the end of the expedition the pay-off was clear as everybody achieved a Ski Foundation Level 1 qualification. Somebody should however remind WO2 McDougall that just because the lifts run from 0830 until 1645 everyday it is not compulsory to use them every day. The remainder of the course was spent learning many skills which some of us, including the more adventurous, would not have believed possible and there were some real heroes who progressed way beyond their wildest dreams. There were many memorable moments during the week but what sticks in most peoples’ minds must be the first time we got to the top of La Grande Motte. We travelled via a train in a tunnel, when the weather was at its best, and this was an experience none of us are likely to forget; the icing on the cake was that we actually got to ski off this monster which is an achievement of the highest order.
The week ended and we had a traditional group meal organised by SSgt Jo (Knees) Burton and friends, where rewards were given and some speeches made by the instructors. This is where all 4 groups got together for one last time swapping stories of incredible bravery, skill, cunning and jumps taken at warp speed of which probably only a tiny percentage had any semblance of truth in them. There are of course many more stories to tell but I only have limited space. I will finish though by endorsing the trip and the area; if you’ve never skied before, there or anyway, then make sure that you volunteer when the chance arises. It was a fantastic opportunity for which everyone was truly grateful; our thanks go out to all of the instructors and all of those who planned the trip.
Lt Col CJ Francis MBECommanding Officer